Conferences and Meetings: May 2011

5/31 NAI AbET Seminar: Brad McLain, 'StoryTeaching: An Exploration of the Importance of Story & Narrative in Science Learning'

Join us for the first Astrobiology Education and Training Seminar!

Date/Time: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:00AM Pacific

Presenter: Brad McLain, University of Colorado, Denver


Humans are natural storytellers. We describe our experiences in terms of story. We recount our history in terms of story. We learn new things and construct new understanding through the reframing of old stories and the forging of new ones. We even describe who we are--to ourselves and others--in terms of story. When applied to science learning and science communication, the concept of "story" represents a powerful framework for making STEM relevant, meaningful, and exciting. This talk will explore StoryTeaching as the intersection of two fields of study: (1) Science Identity Construction through Experiential Learning, and (2) the Narrative Study of Lives. We will discuss the formation, maintenance, and maturing of positive science identities in the face of an often science-hostile youth culture, and the significance of personal ownership and integration of STEM into an individual's sense of self though the processes of interpretation and meaning making inherent in story. StoryTeaching is currently currently a research topic and methodology used at the University of Colorado, Denver.


Brad McLain is an educational researcher and co-director of XSci at the University of Colorado, Denver. XSci is the Experiential Science Education Research Collaborative focused on research into STEM learning theory and the field of experiential learning. McLain's research focus is on science identity construction and the role of narrative (storytelling) in content understanding and personal meaning-making. He is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker and multimedia designer, having been the lead for several NSF and NASA projects over the past 10 years. Prior to joining the faculty at UCD, McLain was an educational researcher at the Space Science Institute, a multimedia instructional designer in the online learning industry, a NASA educational lead, and a social science researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). McLain's NASA experience began in 2001 as an education lead for space shuttle mission STS 107, Columbia's final flight which ended in tragedy. Following his stint on the human space flight side of NASA, he became in involved is several educational efforts in space science and astrobiology. He is also a long-time partner of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and has served as an NAI presenter, reviewer, and project development partner in both NASA and NSF funded astrobiology education projects. McLain lives in Boulder Colorado with his family of 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 wife.

Participation Instructions:


Please RSVP to Marco Boldt ( if you will be joining by Polycom.

To view the slides, connect to


The slides and audio/video for this meeting will be presented using Adobe Connect. To join the meeting, connect to:

Date/Time: Monday, May 23, 2011 11:00AM Pacific
Presenter: Mark Allen (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech)

Abstract: The ESA/NASA ExoMars/Trace Gas Orbiter (EMTGO) mission, with a planned launch in 2016, is based on a concept that can be traced back to the NAI. EMTGO is also the first truly international mission in which NASA is a participant; the contributions from ESA and NASA are closely intertwined. The primary objective of EMTGO is to characterize the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere, particularly trace species that may be signatures of extant biological and/or geological processes, and its variability in space and time. It is hoped that these measurements, along with a good understanding of the contemporaneous atmospheric state, may allow localization of the surface source(s) of the "exotic" trace gases. The international science payload selected for this mission has the capability to inventory the atmospheric composition with more sensitivity than has flown on previous deep space planetary missions. One measure of this capability is the ability to detect three cows on Mars belching methane. Several of the NAI principal investigators and co-investigators are members of the payload science teams.

Participation Instructions:

TO JOIN USING A VIDEOCONFERENCING SYSTEM: Please RSVP to Marco Boldt ( if you will be joining by Polycom. To view the slides, connect to

TO JOIN USING A WEB BROWSER: The slides and audio/video for this meeting will be presented using Adobe Connect. To join the meeting, connect to:

A two-day workshop using NAI remote communications tools will be held on May 12th and 13th, 2011. Real-time participation requires only an internet connection and is available to interested scientists from around the world. More details, including connection and registration information, is available at the meeting website given below.


Over the past 4 billion years, the Earth and its biosphere have undergone a series of linked transitions in redox state, biochemical plasticity, and biological diversity. In order to study this evolution, diverse scientific disciplines (including inorganic and organic geochemistry, microbiology, and genomics) must overcome traditional disciplinary barriers and integrate their tools and perspectives. In recent years, numerous technological advances have resulted in rapid advances in each of these fields. One of the most striking has been the development of cheaper and more efficient sequencing technologies, along with attendant advances in genetics and the computational techniques to leverage the resulting data. To facilitate interactions between paleobiologists and scientists using the latest techniques in molecular biology and genomics, a symposium will be held at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego, California. The primary objective is the exchange of knowledge and the development of a dialog that might yield cutting-edge ideas for future work.

Confirmed Speakers

* Tim Lyons, University of California, Riverside
* Gordon Love, University of California, Riverside
* James Lake, University of California, Los Angeles
* Gustavo Caetano-Anolles, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
* Lawrence David, Harvard University
* Trinity Hamilton, Montana State University
* Ziming Zhao, Georgia Tech
* Clyde Hutchison, J. Craig Venter Institute
* Kate Freeman, Pennsylvania State University
* Dave Doughty, California Institute of Technology
* Jason Raymond, Arizona State University
* Andrew Allen, J. Craig Venter Institute
* Jack Bailey, University of Minnesota
* Frank Stewart, Georgia Tech

The workshop will consist of talks and discussion. Each presentation will allow ample time for questions and answers afterwards. We encourage researchers to attend in real time to engage in what we expect will be a lively exchange of ideas during the workshop.

Workshop Organizing Committee

* Chris Dupont, J. Craig Venter Institute
* Ariel Anbar, Arizona State University
* John Peters, Montana State University

For more information and participation instructions, visit: